Album Review: Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?


Black Lips’ new album is just like any other album they’ve released in the past 15 years, exciting and very different than any other release out there right now. In Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?, they’ve introduced a full time saxophonist Zumi Rosow, while two long-time members, Joe Bradley and Ian St. Pé, left the band. Black Lips’ sound has been altered since the original drummer and long time guitarist have left, but their reckless and eclectic sound has shown itself in this album as well.

Points are given to their attempt of making Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? a conceptual album, but it wasn’t quite executed in a creative and consistent way. Had there not been short interlude tracks that feel like filler songs and no sense of consistency, it would have definitely exceeded expectations. Even though it was produced by Sean Lennon and had background vocals from Yoko Ono, it felt like they were just hanging out; you couldn’t feel their presence throughout the album. Maybe they were just there as a big names to get people to listen to this release?

As a conceptual album, I didn’t feel the vibe of a overarching theme or influence. Most of the tracks had okay vocals, but nothing throughout the album excited me to be a repeat worthy album. I would give “Can’t Hold On” and “Crystal Night” a listen when you first dive into the album. They’re easy listening tracks that had a road-tripping kind of sound but have them in the background at a party as well.

All in all, I didn’t love Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?. It feels like Black Lips need to evolve their sound and change it up a bit. A few songs are worth listening but definitely not my go-to for hot new albums of 2017.

 

 

All In My Mind And All Of The Time: Spoon – Hot Thoughts Review


There have been a number of popular indie rock bands that have been lovingly (or deridingly depending on who you talk to) labeled “dad rock” – a title given to older bands who put out a consistent stream of quality albums that are dependably good (nothing more and nothing less). While bands like Yo La Tengo and The National come to mind (the latter having a full Billboard article written about this distinction), no other band has been carrying this title quite like Austin-based indie rock band, Spoon. Spoon has been kicking for over two decades now, and while their discography hasn’t reinvented the indie rock wheel, all of their albums are still quality listens. With that being said, their new record, Hot Thoughts, is a surprising album. After a successful two decades worth of music, Spoon could have come out with an album like their acclaimed 2014 release They Want My Soul as a victory lap of sorts. However, Hot Thoughts sees the band with a newfound energy and an album that is their most playful, emotional, and experimental yet.

In terms of sound, Spoon has been known for some fantastic grooves (look no further than “Me and the Bean” from Girls Can Tell and “Eddie’s Ragga” from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), but no groove in their discography has been as danceable as the one on the title track which starts off the record on a high note. The groove, the bells underlying the beat, and the layered sections of instrumentation (such as the violins near the end of the track) is like a kickstart to the heart and shows right away that the band isn’t set on making another conventional indie rock record. This newfound experimentation continues on album highlight “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” who’s first-half features a tasteful, low-key brooding that’s highly reminiscent of Spoon’s discordant “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Songs like “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and “First Caress” both feature some enjoyable piano-laden rock along with interesting electronic elements that add another layer of variation and flourish to their tried-and-true formula. But none of the tracks here exemplify Spoon’s goal for experimentation as much as the songs “Pink Up” and “Us.” “Pink Up” is a moody slow-burn that features a prominent xylophone melody and flourishes of warped vocal samples from frontman Britt Daniels. On the weirder “Us,” the band sees fit to end the record with a four-minute instrumental jazz track which builds upon the xylophone motif from “Pink Up.” It’s something that you could hear as an interlude in an instrumental post-rock album, definitely not from a band like Spoon. It’s spacey, wild, moody, and gutsy. I was definitely put off at first listen, but subsequent playthroughs definitely helped solidify the song’s place in the track listing.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Spoon purists shouldn’t be put off by the new sounds of the record. There are definitely vintage-Spoon songs such as “First Caress” and Tear It Down.” “Can I Sit Next To You” is an energized Spoon track that sounds like they listened to Rolling Stone’s Some Girls (especially “Miss You”) before they hit the studio. If I had a major gripe with the album, I would highlight “Shotgun” as being a weak song in the track listing, especially since it feels awkward as a transition to the album’s closer. As far as vocal performance and lyrics go, Britt Daniels hasn’t sounds so spirited in years. Whereas frontmen like Matt Berninger from The National find ways to sing without putting too much strain in their voice after years of wear-and-tear, Britt Daniels’ voice is still as dynamic and pleasing as ever.

Spoon is a road-tested band that continues to show that they are capable of staying around for many years more. You would think a twenty-plus-year band would begin to sound drab, but Spoon, with every release, prove capable of putting out fantastic records that sound modern in any age and do so with extreme fervor. I would highly recommend this album to fans and novices alike.

Recommended Tracks: “Hot Thoughts,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” and “WhisperI’lllistentohearit”

Mastodon? Who are they? A hot loud rock band currently trending now!!


Mastodon just so happens to be one of the hottest rock bands right now! They are an American band that has been around since 1999. Mastodon is a quartet composed of four members: Brent Hinds, Brann Dailor, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders. This band is from Atlanta, Georgia, and has been around since then, and continues to release new music. If I were to classify the genre of music that the band plays, I would say they are an Alternative Metal, Alternative/Indie Rock, and Heavy Metal. Many of you who have been listening to my show know that when I played Mastodon, I actually liked their music. One of the hottest albums that is out right now by Mastodon is Emperor of Sand which was released earlier this year. This album is by far one of the best albums that I have listened to, and have played since I became a fan of them. So, with that, I have really enjoyed listening to Mastodon. When I have listened to Mastodon, their music made me feel like that I wanted to listen to it more.

Okay, so what else is new with Mastodon? Not only do they have a new album out that was released this year, they also have been on tour doing concerts to their fans and those who have been listening to their songs. They happen to have a concert scheduled for May 2, 2017, in Silver Spring, MD.

My favorite song by Mastodon that I have played is “Show Yourself”. I like that song because of the excellent way they play the drums because it is easily noticeable that they play the drums in a way that people can hear them. It has an excellent guitar that I can also hear when I hear the drums.

I am surprised that Mastodon isn’t as loud as Slipknot. When I first heard of Mastodon, I did not know who they were until I started playing their music and researching about what band they are.

So, now do you have any questions about Mastodon? I think that may be enough since I have said some things about them earlier. I hope everyone has had a wonderful time reading and learning about Mastodon!

Tremaine Album Review


For this heavily anticipated new album Trey Songz comes back with a pretty solid album named Tremaine. Tremaine is an album Trey Songz wanted to show the listeners that he is still one of the best if not the best R&B artist in the game today. Trey Songz expressed in his interview with the Breakfast Club that he named his first track on his album named Playboy because of his current situation with women. He explained that being at the stature that he is in he feels that he can not trust a woman with his heart because, there is always more calling and does not fill the urge to be committed in one relationship.  The interview with the Breakfast Club he discussed his issues with Nicki Minaj and simply put he felt that it was weak on Nicki’s part to get at him for no reason over the allegations claimed in the Shether song. Once the interview was over the anticipation of this album has gone up. There are 15 total songs on this album. I will review the once that are highly recommended to check out and listen to on rotation.

#2 song- Come Over: This song is one of the best songs on this album that brings fans right in to show exactly why Trey Songz is one of the best in his group. A must download with great vibes, hooks, and chorus throughout the whole track.

#5 song- Playboy: A song with context and understanding where Trey Songz is coming from I feel that this song is a great song to listen to in certain moods. I enjoyed the sound the message of the song and Trey Songz delivered well on this track.

#6 song The Sheets…..Still: To me this best song on the album, with how great he switched up his flow and how smooth his voice changed talking about the experience with the woman in the song definitely makes this a favorite song on the album to me.

#10 song 1×1: This song instantly is a summer vibe song that could be a great radio song to play. Nice vibes and high upbeat rhythm to this track makes you want to vibe. Highly recommended song for those looking for a summer jam.

#12 song: What Are We Here For?: One of my favorite songs on the album that is an instant radio play. With the beat and rhythm this is a quality track that will be played a lot more in the summer.

Review Score: 7/10 Very solid album that will be played from time to time.

-DjLeodawnus

Joey Bada$$- All Amerikkkan Review


The heavily touted single Land of the Free from Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ made the anticipation of his All Amerikkan album sky rocket in expectations. Coming to towards this album I knew that Joey Bada$$ is on of the most lyricist rappers in the game today. My expectations for this album before listening to it, was that it was going to have a political standpoint of how Joey sees the world within his eyes. Once listening to it couple times that is something was accomplished. With features of TDE’s own ScHoolboyQ, Styles P, J. Cole, Flatbush Zombie’s own Meechy Darko, Nyck Caution, Kirk Night, and Chronixx. I had an idea of what type of sound that Joey Bada$$ kinda like old school melodic deep lyrical type music. The songs that i really enjoyed and recommend on this album.

Land of the Free: A song that has a Biggie sample that I felt he used very well in what he feels the status of being a black person with a voice in society.

Rockabye Baby: My favorite song on the album that has a great sound rhythms and lyrics. ScHoolboy Q came in hard and had a great feature on this album that makes this song come together to be one of the best songs on the album.

Y U Don’t Love Me?: Most interesting and very insightful track from Joey. He puts this song as a message of being in a relationship with the country he lives in. Very good insightful track.

Legendary: With having J. Cole on this song he fits very will with the sound and hook. Both J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ fit very well together and just feel good music that has a very good message in it.

Devastated: To me has the best rhythm sound that has a very good radio value. Joey made on of the best beat on this song that is instantly catchy and has a lot of replay value.

Temptations: A song with a heavy message that comes with a very good up tempo beat. Having insight of the media is hurting the cause and it was a plot to have all this outrage to push certain agendas.

Rating: 8/10 Very good album has a lot of replay value.

-DJLeodawnus

Follow Me Into Sweet Fields of Blue: a Tennis Review


Tennis came back last month with there latest album Yours, Conditionally. After a months out at sea, facing nature and the isolation of the vast ocean they’re back at it making dreamy surf pop.

The duo had worked together with Urban Outfitters as they tracked their adventures writing the album out on the high seas. The married couple of Alaina and Patrick Moore along with one other person took to the ocean on a sail boat. The couple have sailed before, often a method in their writing process. The album is the end result of love testing it’s limits against outside forces and inner struggles.

The duo can’t help but make me think back to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s relationship. Although their love ended with a separation, it’s the brilliant way the two complimented each other that reminds me of the former. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Tennis live twice during their last tour and could feel the love between them from across the stage. It’s easy to see how much they support and encourage one another.

This album is a lot like their other albums, it’s warm and invokes that desire to head to the islands with your loved one. The songs feel like sunshine on your skin the very first day of spring. Alaina wrote this album as the result of her exploring and learning the limits of her love. As a wife, a lover, a partner and a friend she found herself challenging the roles she’s come into. Her marriage has taught her what it’s like to share a life with someone else yet still remain true to herself and be her own person. They’ve become a team but at the same time she understands how necessary it is to still be able to function on your own.

Ladies Don’t Play Guitar was their first release from the album. The song is her reflection on her experiences in the music industry and how being a female musician has affected her. She believes in feminism and how necessary it is for us to stand up for our beliefs and this song came at a time in her life where she’s felt the most empowered.

Other songs like Matrimony and My Emotions Are Blinding and 10 Minutes 10 Years display how her marriage has affected her life and their music. Matrimony was written as a reflection of the day they were married. Lines in the song were thoughts that crossed her mind that day. It’s personal and so incredibly sweet you can’t help but smile and wish you had been invited to their wedding.

Fields of Blue, personally my favorite off the album was inspired by the logbook or as Alaina put it, “her teenage diary”, of their days out on the choppy waters. Her findings came out sounding very stream of conscious and like that of the diary of young romantic. She became inspired by one entry in which she had written, “Follow me into sweet fields of blue”. One can’t help but yearn for their love and the sea all at once while listening to her dreamy, sentimental voice.

It’s refreshing to hear an album so consistent with its theme and quality. Often more and more artist feel like they’re trying to release singles rather than songs that flow together in an album. Yours, Conditionally takes us on a trip and leaves us wanting love and adventure out in open waters.

9 out of 10, oh what’s the use in resisting?

 

The Case To Renew Timeless


When it comes to shows on television, I’m not usually the one who is caught up on all the seasons, especially when it comes to the hour-long shows that require hours of commitment and time to fully enjoy.

 

While many of my friends were talking about the latest episodes of their favorite shows, I was out of the loop on most of the conversations because I either didn’t have time to catch up on the episodes of the show or I just didn’t care for the show. I get distracted easily so it’s easy for me to lose interest in a show especially with all of the options available these days with streaming and DVR capabilities.

 

However, on October 3rd 2016, I was caught by surprise and my perspective on television dramas changed when I watched the series premiere of Timeless on NBC.

 

To give you a quick background on Timeless, the show is about the “Time Team,” a crew consisting of history professor Lucy Preston, Delta Force Operative Wyatt Logan, and programmer Rufus Carlin. Together they are assigned on missions by the FBI to track and capture ex NSA asset Garcia Flynn as he travels through time attempting to change history. (Tried my absolute best to write this section without giving any major spoiler to the plot)

 

The show turned out to be spectacular and has rallied a large fan base through the course of its 16-episode season. Each episode presents a new time period with a historic moment at risk which if effected would change the entire course of history. Whether the Time Team is in 2017 or in 1937, the setting feels rich, authentic, and historically accurate. Each episode presents critical challenges for Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus as their faith and trust in each other is put to the test. Each of them have interesting backgrounds and conflicts that they face and are constantly reminded of while completing their mission. After watching the first episode, I felt a connection to the characters because they embody ordinary people and you can feel for them in their situation. (SPOILER ALERT) For an example, Wyatt struggles to accept that his wife Jessica could never be brought back to life no matter what he does with history (END OF SPOILER ALERT) The show’s use writer’s, cast, and crew have created an authentic universe with realistic characters in critical situations that make for heart-stopping television entertainment.

 

However, even with Timeless’ fanbase and success, the show is still at risk of cancellation as NBC will have to decide which of its new shows they will renew and which ones they will discontinue. The cast and crew as well as fans of the show have taken their campaign to get the show renewed on social media using the hashtag #RenewTimeless on Twitter.

 

Season one of Timeless was outstanding, giving its audience a new kind of television drama. Its magnificent characters, and storylines reflect the hard work and passion that the cast and crew had to develop such a mysterious yet wonderful world.

 

If NBC cancels Timeless, it will cut the life of a show with wonderful storylines, relatable characters, and historically authentic settings that create an exquisite world that takes its audience’s breath away.

 

However, if NBC renews the show, it can keep that wonderful world alive and allow the cast and crew to continue to tell the stories of Rufus, Lucy, and Wyatt and their adventures through time. If the cast and crew remain passionate and continue to be passionate and dedicate their artistry to the show, Timeless doesn’t just have the opportunity to have the chance for a second season, but to be one of those television shows that comes once in a generation that people will appreciate for years to come.

 

For those who love Timeless, continue to to love and enjoy the show by showing your support on your social media. #RenewTimeless isn’t so hard to tweet. In days like this, it is up to we the audience to show passion for the shows that we love to watch and show the broadcast companies that they are shows worth keeping.

 

For those who have never watched the show before, my advice is to stream the first season where ever you can find it  (My best guess is Hulu or on NBC’s website). Watch the first two or so episodes and take a chance to immerse yourself into the’ shows universe and watch the character’s stories unfold and perhaps you may see why many people are passionate about their favorite time team.

 

I’ve never been too big on television dramas, but since I’ve seen Timeless, I see the potential that television shows can have. Like movies, they too can tell amazing stories that make us go into the state of wonder and ask questions about the show and about our own situations. I only hope that NBC could renew this amazing show and allow the shows story to unfold beyond its first season.
#RenewTimeless

Demon Hunter “Outlive”


“Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” – Dalai Lama XIV

For the band Demon Hunter, the above-mentioned quote defines the message behind their eighth studio album, “Outlive”.

In the three years between their last album, “Extremist”, and this release, the band has gone through their own set of trials and tribulations, yet through all that, the veteran Christian metal act came out of those tragedies an even stronger, tightly threaded unit. Nowhere does it show more than in the songwriting in the album.

Ryan Clark, the vocalist and founder of Demon Hunter, pours out his soul in the opening song, “Trying Times”, a song written about taking a stand and uncovering the truth behind our existence. The opening, which serves as a connecting gateway to “Jesus Wept”, shows the maturity the band has made with each passing album since their self-titled album in 2002.

Patrick Judge, who joined Demon Hunter as the lead guitarist back in 2008, was finally given a chance to contribute as a primary songwriter, and he made the best of it, contributing five songs to the record. If you’re a longtime fan of the band, you can tell the difference in songs like “Cold Blood”, “Cold Winter Sun”, and the single “Died In My Sleep”, where the guitar is among the most technical work in their entire catalog.

The songwriting has also taken a more personal approach for the band, as well. While Demon Hunter has always been known for their uncompromising Christian faith, the band has also grown, welcoming five children into the fold between “Extremist” and this album. The songs “One Step Behind” and “The End” are examples of how parenthood has made an impact on the band and their families. Whereas the former was written as a message from a father to his daughter (Ryan’s daughter, Ryan), the latter speaks of the struggle of being a first-time parent and always being concerned over the smallest thing.

The band also recorded their longest song to date, “Slight the Odds,” which, according to Ryan, they didn’t know whether it would be the closing track on the album until the end. The song, which talks about how the odds are stacked against those who manage to keep their faith strong, is a perfect ending to what is otherwise a cathartic release.

Overall, “Outlive” is Demon Hunter’s most personal and strongest album to date. With no shortage of inspiration for the album, the band stuck true to their roots while enhancing their message of hope and faith. If you are a new listener to Demon Hunter and this is the first album you have heard, then welcome. If you’re a longtime follower, then you will be pleased with the growth that this record shows.

Tracks to listen to: Cold Winter Sun, Died In My Sleep, One Step Behind, Slight the Odds

A Close-up of “The Sickness”


Palette.“The Sickness,” by Rich Beckermeyer is in the Sac State Library’s Gallery right now. Beckermeyer is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer.

His work in this exhibition consists of very large photos, in the form of Dibold Metal Prints. This is where the ink is infused into the metal, aluminized metal. This makes the prints durable, water-proof, and shiny. Beckermeyer used his grandfather, and his failing health, as his subject. His goal was to engage with the overall conversation of aging, care, and end of life.

Many of his photographs are very close up, and all of them are very large. This gives such an intimacy to the viewer. It’s done in grayscale. The achromatic nature of the work gives it a little bit of emotional distance, and sets a tone of the past and memories, to the work. And, the shine to these types of metal prints always strike me as really springing them to life. It adds dimension to it, which highlights different aspects of the picture, as you move around.

We can see the small flakes of skin, coming off of the grandfather’s back. The oxygen tubing is blown up so large, and still is not contained inside the frame. The blow-up of a page of the bible is mostly blurry, because the grandfather was losing his sight, but it was still a huge part of his life. Making these items, these moments so large gives them such an emotional weight. You can feel how much these items meant to the artist, and/or his grandfather.

I personally really liked the print titled, “His Caregiver Walking Away From Her Childhood Home.” Nothing seems cleaned up for the shot. The tree branches he included in the shot add to the feeling of age to this home, further highlighted by the grayscale of the photo. The caregiver looks contemplative, with a touch of sadness. It was one that I kept going back to. I tried imagining what was going through her head. And, it could be a myriad of things, even when only put into the context of the rest of the show.

 

“The Sickness,” will be at Sacramento State’s Library Gallery until March 18th, 2017

Like what you’re reading? Listen to me, DJ Tray Squat laugh my way through our political system, on PoliPsycho. Every Wed. at 4-5pm on KSSU.COM

The Oscar for Best Picture Goes to…


indexThe Oscar’s have nominated the movie Hidden Figures for Best Picture this year and a lot of people are ecstatic. The 2017 Annual Academy Awards will hit our televisions on February 26th at 5:30pm in Hollywood at the Dolby Theatre. Hidden Figures is based on a true story that reveals the history behind America’s first successful entry into outer space and shows how three African American women were erased from our textbooks. The film is monumental and inspirational due to its thought provoking story and an extraordinary cast who will awaken your deepest emotions.

Tahari P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a mathematical genius who developed the calculations to launch NASA in space, Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn the “human” computer” of NASA, and finally singer and now renowned actress Janelle Monáe who became the first African American aerospace engineer after challenging the courts for her entry into a segregated school for training.

The film was set in the 1960s in a racially divided environment filled with tension and hostility. Ironically 57 years later when the film released, it seems America is still in a similar scenario. Antagonistic power dynamics showed the racist attitudes of this time; the hilarious and talented Jim Parsons stepped outside of his realm to play the rigid character of Paul Stafford, one of NASA’s engineers who had racial bias and a grudge against Katherine Johnson for having extraordinary mathematical talents. The gifted Henson will bring tears to your eyes as she struggles daily to use the restroom because the “colored” bathroom was placed several blocks away. The actor’s performances will have you speechless and sobbing into your popcorn.

Although there is no debate on the film’s deservingness for its nomination, there is some friendly competition among the other nominees for Best Picture that include “Fences,” “Lions,” and “Moonlight,” all of which are phenomenal films.

Director Theodore Melfi and producer Pharrell Williams also deserve some praise for helping retell such an incredible story that brings people together, but also for its huge success. Hidden Figures brought in more than $200 million domestically, more than tripling the cost of its production. The movie received an overall rating of A+ and has remained relevant in daily conversation.

Due to the current state of American society and politics, this film reminds us how far we have come in achieving equality. With the power of love, gratitude, and acceptance, we can transcend the impossible to create a world filled with peace, love, and understanding.